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204                                                                                                                    B. POLEVOI
on foot, promising to get to the sanatorium in the eve-
ning by the electric train.
He had no relatives in Moscow, but he wanted very
much to have a look round the capital, eager to try his
strength in walking unaided, and to mix in a noisv
crowd that was not in the least concerned about him. He
had telephoned Anyuta and had asked her whether she
could meet him at about twelve o'clock. Where? Well,
say the Pushkin Monument. ... So now he was striding
along the embankment of the majestic, granite-bound
river, the ruffled surface of which was glistening in the
sun. As he walked, he deeply inhaled the warm summer
air that was impregnated with a sweet, familiar fra-
How good everything was all round!
All the women he passed looked beautiful to him, and
the green trees looked astonishingly bright. The air was
so balmy that it turned his head like an intoxicant, and
so clear that he lost his sense of perspective, and it
seemed to him that he had only to stretch out his hand
to touch the battlement walls of the Kremlin that he had
never seen before except in pictures, the cupola of Ivan
the Great belfry, and the huge, low arch of the bridge
hanging heavily across the water. The sweet, intoxicat-
ing smell that filled the city reminded him of his boy-
hood. Where did it come from? Why was his heart
throbbing so fast, and why was he thinking of his moth-
er, not the present shrunken old lady, but young, tall,
with magnificent hair? He had never been in Moscow
with her!
Until now, Meresyev had known the capital only
from illustrations in the magazines and newspapers, from
books, from what he had heard from those who had
visited it, from the slow midnight chimes of the ancient
clock that rang out over the sleeping world, and from
the medley of sounds that came through the radio receiv-
er during holiday demonstrations. And now, here it
was, spread before him, beautifully refracted in the hot
summer light.
He walked down the deserted embankment along the
Kremlin wall, stopped to rest against the cool granite
parapet and gazed at the grey, oily water splashing